I was pleasantly surprised by 2015’s “Savage Requiem”, an album where Magic Kingdom nicely moved themselves up a division in the Symphonic Power Metal rankings, mixing some good song-writing with a fine production and great musicianship – everything came together well for the band. Then, as is generally the case with guitarist Dushan Petrossi, it was the turn of his other main band Iron Mask to be the focus for a while. So, 2019 sees Magic Kingdom back in favour once more and rather than just expand on the previous album, the band have introduced vocal powerhouse Michael Viscera into their ranks.
Viscera will be a name familiar to many Metal fans of many ages, I first came across him in Obsession. way back in the 80’s and then enjoyed his performances in so many other acts over the years including Loudness, Fatal Force, MVP and most notably in context with this album, as vocalist for Yngwie Malmsteen back in the 90’s. Initially the introduction of Viscera had me concerned. Given Petrossi’s similarity in guitar approach and style to Malmsteen, and also that Iron Mask are much more neo-classical in sound, I was worried the two bands might begin to blur into one – Magic Mask or Iron Kingdom as it were, but the combination of song-writing and Viscera being able to tailor his vocal abilities to most genres he is given mean Magic Kingdom are still their own entity.
And all this has actually meant yet another step forward for this band. The confidence in the vocal lines – the nailed harmonies and dynamic delivery, are a perfect foil for Petrossi’s elaborate guitar-work. The frenzied, energetic drums (courtesy of the fabulous Michael Brush) and galloping bass-lines are a total highlight and really drive songs like ‘Dark Nights, Dark Thoughts’ ‘Fear My Fury’, the title track, and the enticingly titled ‘Unleash The Dragons’ forward with an energy that the crisp, powerful production captures perfectly. There’s plenty of memorable, anthemic choruses, many embracing that Symphonic Power Metal tradition to fine effect and all delivered with Viscera’s maturity, class and professionalism.
There’s even a ballad that Axel Rudi Pell fans would lap up along with plenty of mid-paced moments in other tracks that show a nice ability to mix things up. Maybe occasionally some songs might nudge a little nearer the cheese counter than some shoppers care to be situated – for instance ‘Temple Of No Gods’ treads a fine line that ‘In The Den Of Mountain Trolls’ goes crashing through with total disregard, but if you are fan of this genre then that’s just all part of the fun! On the whole, there’s no denying that “MetAlmighty” is definitely an album from a band pushing themselves forward, with their best line-up yet, delivering their best album to date.
(7.5/10 Andy Barker)